Posted by Liam O'Kennedy September 21, 2012 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by the City of Gloucester:
Two years ago, an open space for local dogs to roam free all year long was just an idea shared between two friends. Today, Gloucester Dog Park is a near reality, with only $75,000 of donations needed to complete the dream.
In March of 2011, local residents Mary Lou Maraganis and Judi Masciarelli decided to act on their shared vision of a public dog park, convincing the City of Gloucester to ante up two acres of land to support their plan. A committee formed, helping to map a means to the vision, including ways to raise awareness and bring in the essential funding. A few weeks ago, construction began. Predictions are that dogs could be frolicking in this new park by next spring.
One inspiration for Maraganis was her work with rescue dogs, including Tino, a dog she tried unsuccessfully to rescue. “I thought creating a dog park in town would honor Tino and ultimately help other dogs, giving them a place to exercise and socialize and giving their guardians a place to network and find good resources for their dog care needs,” Maraganis explains.
To see their vision through, Friends of Gloucester Dog Park has needed to gather donations from the community. To date, generous contributors have helped raise $186,000 of the $250,000 needed to fund the Gloucester Dog Park. The City of Gloucester and local businesses have provided essential elements, ranging from donated land to donated water bubblers and construction materials.
Financial support has come in through donations large and small. According to committee member, Louise Grindrod, contributions have ranged from pennies to a donation of $100,000 by a local foundation.
With a new fundraising awareness sign designed and created by Rob Paterson, going up at Grant Circle, committee members hope to draw community financial support to help complete construction and establish a maintenance fund.
Aiding the early fundraising has been a generous direct donation of $20,000 and a challenge grant of $80,000 provided by the Dusky Foundation, named after a Labrador who served as childhood companion of local resident, Linzee Coolidge.
“High on the list of organizations we support are those relating to children and animals, especially in the Gloucester community, so the Dog Park fitted right in to our ‘radar screen’,” Coolidge explains. The Dusky Foundation’s challenge grant was funded upon the collection of community donations that collectively matched that amount.
“I think it is good for young people to live with and understand the domestic animal,” says Coolidge. “This understanding is a link to the whole world of animals and nature that is basically important to humans.”
Support has come in also in the form of donated supplies, planning time and labor. The park entry has been designed by John Dugger, engineered by Kelly Brancleone, P.E., with construction overseen by Nikki Bach. Then there are the young people who have devoted their time as well.
“Before the school year ended, the students at Gloucester High School carpentry tech department under the direction of Dana Griffin completed a final project,” says Grindrod. “They built the framework for the two sheds making up part of Gloucester Dog Park’s main entranceway pergola. Then along came Chris Fogarty of CF Carpentry, Inc., along with Aaron Waybret, Brendan Fogarty and Phil Bazel, who volunteered their time to frame the roof and complete them. Timberline generously donated the building materials and Precision Roofing is donating and installing the roof. What a true community project this has been.”
Fundraisers have also helped the cause, including those hosted by local restaurants such as Stones Pub, Jalapenos, Giuseppe’s, Topside, and Cape Ann Brew Pub. Cape Ann Theatre dedicated a performance of ‘Sylvia’, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the dog park. Local establishments, Animal Crackers, Essex Bird, and Petco, have all donated to fundraisers as well.
Gloucester will join a growing number of Massachusetts communities that have dedicated dog parks, providing local dogs a chance to romp freely in a two-acre facility. Located in an under-utilized, overgrown section of Stage Fort Park, the Gloucester Dog Park will offer three spaces for dogs and their guardians.
There will be an off-leash large dog area for large dogs, an off-leash small dog area for small dogs under 25 pounds, and a special needs and training area for dogs not ready for the dog park and in need of special training and time to adjust.
This third area, named Tino’s Corner in memory of the dog that helped inspire the park, will also serve training, education and adoption events.
“These parks are not just about dogs. They are about people. People coming together and building a community. It’s an entire social network,” says Maraganis. “People have met their boyfriends, girlfriends and spouses at a dog park.”
And as a reminder, this park is being built entirely by private donations. Those who wish to support the efforts may do so online at www.gloucesterdogpark.org or send checks to The Gloucester Fund, earmarked in the memo line ‘dog park,’ to 45 Middle St, Gloucester, MA, 01930.